“Hi, my name is Jessica. Are you calling to give a compliment or a complaint?”
My husband gently responded, “I’d like to give a compliment for one of your drivers.”
There was a long pause. “I’m sorry, I think I may have misheard you, did you say you’re calling to give a compliment?”
“Yes, you heard me correctly. I’d love to compliment one of your truck drivers. I’ve been driving behind him and noticed a “How’s-My-Driving?” sign and this 1-800 number so I spent the next few minutes mentally noting everything he was doing right.”
She couldn’t believe it. After 10 years on the job receiving 8 hours a day worth of back-to-back-to-back complaints about her drivers, this call was the very first compliment she had ever received. In her amusement she prodded him, “Please go on…”
“Well, he was doing a fantastic job staying in between the lines.”
She was now laughing hysterically. “Please tell me more, sir. What else did he do right?” She was now cracking herself up.
My husband began getting more creative while still remaining truthful, “Your driver maintained an adequate distance between his vehicle and the vehicle in front of him. He made multiple lane changes and used his turn indicator every… single… time.”
Before he continued, we overheard her boasting to her coworkers in nearby cubicles. “Hey, everyone, you’ll never guess what I have on the line… a compliment!” She must’ve put us on speaker because we could hear the enjoyment from the other coworkers as we wrapped up. She thanked us, and we hung up smiling, eyes peeled for other good truck drivers on the road.
Since witnessing my husband’s pastime of complimenting truck drivers, I’ve begun to understand the power of seeking to find the good in others. And, what is the very best “good” we can find in someone? God’s image, of course. Whether they know Him or not.
My husband didn’t mention God by name, but he did choose to find His image. He chose to see the good, he chose to see the right, he chose to see God’s image. If you are on the lookout for things to complain about, you will absolutely find them. If you’re looking for the downsides to yourself, your experiences, and others, you will absolutely find them. And you won’t just find them, you’ll magnify them. We can find God everywhere instead. It’s a promise. Jeremiah 29:13 God says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
Jeremiah 29:13 is one of the greatest evangelistic texts in the Old Testament. It defines an appropriate approach to God and also presents an astounding truth: God is findable. When you seek to find God, you’ll find who you’re looking for. What a beautiful promise: We must take God at His Word and not add to His equation. Seek à God = Find à God! God is both the path and the goal.
What we seek is important because it dictates what we find. If we’re not careful, we’ll fall into the all-too-familiar-trap of merely finding and focusing on what people do wrong. No wonder it took 10 years for Jessica to hear a compliment, we’re prone to critique. Therefore, we must consider what we’re seeking because it will inevitably have an effect on what we’ll find.
If we seek perfection in others, we’ll find all the ways they fall short. There’s another way. Rather than falling prey to human nature by seeking and expecting perfection, we can rather seek to find the person they’re becoming.
Luckily, we’re not without a model ourselves. Jesus, the One we’re seeking to become like, not only saw the best in people, He saw who they were becoming before they had arrived. From choosing unqualified disciples, to sharing meals with sinners, to the thief He forgave on the cross, Jesus found opportune moments to seek and find the person they were becoming. While we don’t have the same ability to foresee the future, we do have the present in our midst. In these present moments, we have the opportunity to seek and find the good by pointing out the seemingly small, yet incredibly significant moments where people get things right. Not only does it impact them in that moment, it will impact their future as well. In seeking to find the good, what others are doing right, we model for them a lifestyle that is counter-cultural. How do I know? Because it took 10 years for Jessica to receive a compliment.
Will you join me in seeking to find the good a conscious habit? Let me tell you, we have to be intentional to do so. If we’re not intentional, we’ll drift toward a critical life—critiquing terrible drivers and complaining about frustrating people. Thankfully, intentionally seeking and finding the good in others has become one of my greatest delights—and, as a result, people get to see the good in me.
Megan Fate Marshman loves God and His church. She is a teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church, speaks to audiences internationally, leads the women’s ministry at Arbor Road Church, and serves as director of women’s ministries at Hume Lake Christian Camps. She recently released her newest book Meant for Good and Bible study curriculum. She currently lives in southern California with her family. You can find out more about Megan Fate Marshman by visiting meganfate.com or by following her on Instagram @meganfate.